The billable hour pricing model for law firms in the US & UK isn’t dead yet, particularly for complex litigation, M&A, and tax matters. But it’s under pressure: corporate legal clients’ need to reduce costs and their willingness to look to alternative providers of legal services – including outsourced legal research, out-sourced/off-shored legal drafting & document review as well as automation, including automated regulatory compliance and intelligent interactive document assembly. In reality, law firms must adapt to the unbundling of their value chain. The challenge is most law schools didn’t offer joint MBA/JD programs and teach best business practices in business strategy (e.g., Michael Porter) in the legal curriculum. In addition to studying Michael Porter to understand how large corporate clients’ executive boards and strategy departments are thinking about their business goals, I recommend focusing on the following 3 success factors to adapt: Read further >
Vice President of Strategy & Competitive Intelligence
Wolters Kluwer Global Platform Organization
John Barker is Vice President of Strategy & Competitive Intelligence in Wolters Kluwer’s Global Platform Organization. In this role, John provides strategic direction for Wolters Kluwer’s global tax, legal, and regulatory content delivery platform, Global Atlas, and shares strategic product design best practices globally across Wolters Kluwer.
John has an extensive background in professional publishing, including as a Product Manager and Executive Legal Consultant at LexisNexis, a consultant, and award-winning Account Manager for Thomson Reuters. John has appeared as a keynote speaker at multiple Law Librarian Associations, and authored more than 50 articles discussing the application of technology to the practice of law. He has served as a Special Counsel for Technology at the Indianapolis law firm of Ice Miller LLP, and had a clerkship to a U.S. Magistrate with the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana
John holds a Juris Doctor, cum laude, from Tulane University Law School, New Orleans, and a BA in Philosophy, magna cum laude, from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.
Posts by John Barker
There are several articles recommending that law firms leverage the expert search and knowledge management (KM) expertise of law library staff in business development. For example, in an article posted at Altman Weil, Nina Cunningham suggests two actions law library staff might take to enhance their role in law firm business development, namely, (1) partner closely with the IT department of the firm and (2) become an expert in the firm’s major practice groups. Partnering with the IT department is essential because IT often controls access to all KM technologies in the firm, including firm-wide portals/intranets and practice group distribution lists. Expertise in a practice area enables law library staff to create ever more relevant search alerts for members of the practice group and gain deeper insight into the preferred channels for each member to receive bizdev-related current awareness (smartphone/tablet, Intranet, RSS, social media, etc.). Another article posted at aallnet.org recommends that law library staff should partner closely with the firm’s marketing department – and to be sure that the marketing teams give proper credit to law library staff that help in running queries, analyzing search results, and creating profiles of clients, their competitors and the firm’s competitors. But there is much more value that the law library can provide. Read further >
I had the privilege of participating in a knowledge-sharing meeting held by the ILO (Institute for Innovation in Large Organizations) in Chicago. ILO’s Founder and President, Peter Themes, facilitated the meeting. Executives representing large companies in the Chicago area, as well as the UIC Innovation Center, shared best practices in making innovation work in large organizations. The group explored several themes, such as the following: Read further >
Like many lawyers, accountants, knowledge workers, and other professionals, I maintain a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn’s investor presentations, which I recommend reading, reveal ambitions far beyond being merely a social networking space for knowledge workers. In addition to wanting to be the professional network for connecting all of the world’s professionals, LinkedIn also wants to “be the definitive professional publishing platform.” Read further >
Lawyers and other legal professionals have relied for decades on legal citation indexes. These citators include the CCH Citator, GlobalCite, KeyCite and Shepard’s(R) Citations. They help legal professionals better understand whether a primary source of law being relied upon for a legal argument remains “good law.” Citators also help lawyers expand their research by locating primary and secondary sources of law that comment, explain, agree, disagree with, etc. with them. This is the research function of citators. But is it not time for citators to begin indexing social media, particularly social media created by lawyers and law firms? Read further >
Just like parties to commercial transactions today, merchants in Europe in the Middle Ages knew that time is money. Waiting on courts and legislative entities was a money-losing option, so they created their own means to settle disputes – the lex mercatoria (see articles in Wikipedia and Trans-Lex.org for an overview). The lex mercatoria, Latin for “commercial law,” took into account best commercial practices and existing laws of the jurisdiction where disputes arose. Some commercial best practices were later codified into national legal systems. Others were recognized in judicial opinions. Other customs remained, simply, customs. Read further >
Legal knowledge management (KM) has been through many phases with mixed success. It goes through phases of being fully funded but later subject to budget cuts. Read further >
The Financial Times’s most recent Special Report on The Connected Business inspired me to think about the imperative for law, accounting, and professional services firms (PSOs) to adopt techniques of crowdsourced open innovation methods for enhancing services delivery to their clients. Crowdsourcing in the context of innovation essentially refers to submitting problems to an open or restricted community and asking for suggestions and perhaps even joint development. Winners might even get a reward as part of a contest. In the context of PSOs, the community might be the members of a corporate legal department and partners, associates and paralegals in a law firm that traditionally has provided services to them. In an era where corporate legal departments are moving more work in-house and consolidating outsourced legal work to a smaller number of law firms, open innovation methods initiated by a law firm can help a corporate legal department refine its choice of law firm service providers more accurately. Here’s how it might work. Read further >
Valuable insights appear in the recently released inaugural Special Report from the Financial Times on Innovative Lawyers in Asia-Pacific, which follow its earlier Special Reports on innovative lawyers in the US and Europe that I have blogged about in the past. The FT observes that many law firms in the Asia-Pacific are more innovative than their counterparts in the US and UK. Several factors contribute to this: Read further >
Several marketing professionals to professional services firms (law firms and accounting firms) recommend self-publishing as a way to demonstrate thought leadership to demonstrate thought leadership to retain clients, upsell to existing clients and find new clients. The biggest question is, of course, where are clients and potential clients for any given firm likely to seek thought leadership. Obvious candidates are websites; podcasts; social media (Twitter, Face, LinkedIn); email; print and digital books, journals, articles & magazines; white papers; television and radio interviews; and public hearings before state & federal government entities. And all those expressions of thought leadership are likely to be accessed via smartphones, tablet devices. I’d like to focus on the eReader. Read further >